That’s right. I’m poking my finger right into the electrified outlet of the sacred PAF.
Let me start by saying that, like everyone else, I have tones I prefer, tones I’m ambivalent about and there are tones that grate on me like fingernails on a chalk board. You do too.
Ok, on to the poking.
The thing that gives me the most pause about PAFs is their reputation for inconsistency. There are good ones, lots of OK ones, bad ones and, as I understand it, a relative few amazing ones.
Let’s set the amazing ones aside for a moment (if only we could… ) . The bulk of PAF pups aren’t amazing. What is consistent about them is their inconsistency.
The sticker on the bottom didn’t magically make them exceptional (save for their aftermarket price). Their manufacture was fraught with variables and their performance reflects this.
I’m old enough to have had the chance to do the comparisons myself, but I didn’t get into guitars until long after the PAFs were gone and scattered and the legend born and bloated.
So, I want to know. How many PAFs would a person have to audition to find the few good ones, not to even contemplate finding an exceptional pair?
And that begs the next question. Have you personally done any comparing between multiple sets of PAFs? Did they all sound fantastic, or even the same? Seriously, I want to know.
One more question. If it is true that PAFs are so variable in their tone and performance, doesn’t that kinda disqualify them from being a standard??
The whole problem is, when someone says that this pup or that pup is “PAF like”, what I hear in my head is “inconsistent” or “unpredictable” or, more charitably, “somewhere on this scale of good, but no one can tell you exactly where”. That is, if they are comparing said pups to good or excellent PAFs and not the great horde of average or bad ones.
How can PAFs be a standard when they are like a box of chocolates?